- What would your ideal client look like?
- What is their biggest problem/frustration/challenge – that you can solve for them?
- What are the benefits that they’d get from working with you – instead of someone else who offers similar services/products?
No? Does it feel a bit like trying to nail jelly to the wall?
Q1 – Your ideal client
If you’re thinking in generalisations – ‘My ideal client is … an accountant’, you’ll find it really difficult to attract exactly the right client. There are lots of different types of accountant – and not all of them are the right clients for you.
OK let me confess – for years and years I knew that this issue was important, but every time I tried to nail down exactly who I wanted to do business with I kept thinking ‘But I can also work with …’ and a long list of people would follow. I fell into the ‘Anyone who wants what I do’ trap and, whilst I didn’t go out of business I did have some tough times.
Finally, I got it – and came up with a very specific description of my idea client:
He (yes, it’s definitely a man) is mid forties, highly entrepreneurial and loves going out an schmoozing with potential clients, he’s good at sales. He has a growing and successful company, possibly in IT or Logistics, with between 5-30 staff, turns over at least £500K a year and knows that marketing is important, but it’s not really his thing and there’s nobody in-house that’s actually responsible for it, or at least nothing more than maybe liaising with the graphic designer and printer over brochures and marketing flyers. Marketing and reputation management are things that are on the back-burner – and have been there for quite a while (between brochures!). His view of social media and things like blogging is ‘time consuming, overrated, doesn’t work really’ and he definitely does not have a plan that includes anything of the kind.
Now here is the weird thing; since I got this description clear more and more people who fit it (or are very close) have become clients – without me doing anything differently! Focus is an amazing thing, it’s definitely like someone was listening and, once I’d got the profile clear in my head said “Thank goodness for that, now I know what she wants I’ll turn the tap on.”
So, if you’re thinking ‘Accountants’, get into the detail – what kind of accountants? Large multi-site practices with lots of partners, one-man (or woman) bands, specialists in particular areas – like franchises?
If you’re still struggling – think of the best client you’ve ever had; that one who loved everything you did, was a joy to work with and paid their bills on time – describe them.
Q2 What are their problems?
This starts broad and then narrows down. The easiest way to get the answer is to ask a few company owners who fit your ideal client profile. They don’t have to be existing clients, but with the right kind of conversation they may become one! Start with people who have been clients in the past and you haven’t spoken to for a while, it’s an ideal way to reopen a conversation and often results in more business!
Find out what’s giving them grief and why – and see if there’s anything that fits into what you do that might alleviate that issue, or at least part of it. Gather information and you’ll start to see a trend developing. Businesses rarely have totally unique problems, they are generally variations on a theme. If you are clear about what the problems are and, more importantly, why they’re problems, you’ll have the information you need to answer question 3.
My ideal clients suffer from feast and famine because they don’t have consistent visibility and people who are great advocates. They don’t have regular third party validations and referrals because they haven’t got a process for ensuring these are obtained from existing clients. They aren’t clear on who they’re marketing to and don’t have a plan or strategy to promote their reputation. That means that new business has to be obtained the hard way from cold calling and getting out to meet people and convert them into clients. This means that, while the business is growing, the investment in the sales team is high.
What’s in it for me? It’s no good going to a potential client and telling them ‘I can do this, that and the other,’ you need to be focused on them and what they GET, not what you DO.
If you know the problems they have, you can explain not just that you can fix the problem, but how they’ll benefit from that. What advantages will the solution deliver? How will their life and business change as a result of these solutions?
I can offer my ideal client a package that helps them to identify the right clients so the sales team is more focused, help them to identify where to find groups of people that fit that profile, put together a plan for improving their visibility and connections with potential customers and a means of planning, protecting and promoting their reputation to get more recommendations, referrals and testimonials. That means that the business will grow quicker with less effort for less cost.
What do you offer – and how does that help your potential clients?